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What’s Your Number?

Now if there was an award for the most double-standard-exception-men-can-do-but-women-can’t, well I think every woman under the sun would say the same thing. Sex. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately we’re living in a society where if you are a woman and hey, you know, may just be really enjoying your sex life and freedom well you need to stop ASAP. You’ve got yourself your very own award – a sl*t.

Oh and it doesn’t stop there. If you’re not f****** somebody, well sorry love, you’re frigid. If you’re f****** the entire football team and all their mates, well, that’s even worse. You’re a wh*re.

Reputation comes at a cost for women’s sexual promiscuity. We’re stuck in this warped loop where women just don’t want to admit to their number and can’t without feeling like the whole world is looking on in utter disgust. We’re afraid of what people might think and if it might eventually damage our chances of ever finding love.

Talking to some of my friends it became apparent that this is a concern that isn’t far from people’s minds. Everyone around the table had an anecdote about a friend, a sister or even more close to home, themselves. One person told me that they were instructed by a male friend: “How do you expect to be respected if you don’t even respect yourself?” Now, if you are like me and reeled back in shock when reading that, it might make your eyeballs pop out to know that almost every single friend I spoke to said almost the exact same thing. So why does it all boil down to “respect” and why is it so intimately tied to our sex lives?

Respect, it seems, is predominantly based on male judgement. If you want to be respected well you have to do the impossible. Be sexy but not too sexually available. Be the hottest girl around town but still be as innocent as they day you were born. Have the sexual experience of a porn star, but you know, don’t sleep with any actual guys. Anyone else seeing the problem here? Every sexual encounter somehow becomes a dent to your innocence, one more shag away from being the perfect girlfriend.

(Photo Credit: www.buzzfeed.com)

We’ll name this guy Antoine. Antoine had quite a bit to say about his girlfriend’s promiscuous past: “It’s embarrassing having a girlfriend who has slept with everyone… It’s not normal because I don’t know anyone who has slept with as many people as her.” It’s safe to say that Antoine no longer has a girlfriend. But the sad truth is that there are many, many Antoines out there with exactly the same mentality about prospective girlfriends. One guy even described it as “intimidating.” It’s interesting to think that slut-shaming stems from a place of male insecurity, it’s not about finding an equal in the bedroom, but rather making sure your masculinity is never threatened. It even boils down to talking about your sexual experiences. One girl described how at a pub she was told how “utterly disgusting” she was for revealing the details of a passionate love-making session to her friend.

The thing is, this obsession with how high our sexual quotas are has even filtered down to the films we watch. I once saw an awful, cringe-worthy film called What’s Your Number. At the time it seemed harmless enough. The hapless, down-on-her-luck-gal, who had slept (whoopsy) with 20 guys (gasp!) just needs to find love before anyone finds out she’s had sex with people. Oh and she just can’t sleep with anymore guys. She must under no circumstances go over that number. It makes me want to hurl even writing about it. Thinking back on it now it’s tragic. It’s almost inscribed onto our brains that we must maintain our innocence in order to find happiness. It just shows how askew our society is. Liberated, sexually active women just aren’t what is deemed appropriate. What’s even worse is that we have to judge ourselves like this.

(Photo Credit: fanpop.com)

One friend even told me this: “Just before I started going out with Tom* last year he brought up the whole ‘How many people have you slept with?’ chat whilst lying in bed. I had no idea how many he was on so I decided to say 12 (it was actually 35, so I divided it by 3, seemed realistic enough) because I didn’t want to scare him off. His response to 12? ‘Woah. That’s loads…’ So I never told him the truth…”

So there you have it. Around 6 out of 10 women say that they lie about their number because they’re scared of being judged by prospective partners. It’s sad that women feel that way and that it’s so prevalent to young women’s sexual experiences. It’s something that I doubt will go away nor get any easier. I’m not saying that every guy in the universe thinks the same but hey, you know what? We might as well enjoy the ride and screw anyone who thinks otherwise. 

* Names have been changed for the purpose of this article.

Ilka Kemp - Hall is Features Editor of HC Bristol. Currently studying English Literature at the University of Bristol.
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